Internet cafes close ahead of exams in China

Teenagers tempted by computer games when they should be studying for the national college entrance exam this month won’t have anywhere to escape to in central China, where Internet cafes have closed.

High school seniors gearing up for the massive national college entrance exams in Linchuan in China’s central province of Jiangxi have been able to focus only on studying now that all of the town’s Internet cafes have closed, said an official with the Linchuan culture affairs bureau, who refused to give his name as is common with Chinese officials.

“During this critical period, our goal is to create an educational society for students that is free of distractions,” the official said. “Besides Internet cafes, there’s not much else in town the kids can waste time with.”

Each year, millions of students take the two-day test on a wide range of subjects, which is the sole determinant of their entry into university. Only about 25 percent of them get into university and the vast majority of those who don’t make the cut go straight into the work force.

This year, about 9.5 million students are expected to take the exam on June 7 and 8, a slight dip from 10.2 million last year, according to a report posted on the website of the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily.

The immense pressure — which families share, often waiting anxiously at hotels during exams — has prompted Ministry of Education officials to consider reforming the generations-old tradition.

China announced plans earlier this year to allow students to take subject-specific tests and introduce other measures besides the exam, such as considering leadership and volunteer experience, to ease the stress the students undergo as they compete for coveted spots in colleges.

Cheating is also common during the tests. More about 2,200 students were caught last year using wireless mini earplugs and other electronic devices that feed in answers.

Associated Press